Media conference at Parliament House, Canberra

25 August 2020

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, morning everybody. Look, I welcome this morning the fact that I'm hearing that the South Australian Government is now looking at the border restrictions that they have for Victoria, and I think that's another positive move and a step in the right direction of common sense. That's what I call it for, and in fact Queensland has delivered for the agricultural sector for New South Wales.

But I have to say that it would be hypocritical of New South Wales not to sit down with Victoria and trying and do the same for the agricultural production systems for Victoria and New South Wales. They were very quick to whinge and to go hard at the Queensland Government about border restrictions, of impeding their agricultural production systems in New South Wales coming into Queensland, and the health system of those people in New South Wales that rely on Queensland. They were very quick to criticise yet they've done three parts of bugger all in trying to help Victorian regional Australians in getting those borders in practical common sense solution.

So now, it's beholden on the New South Wales Government to do what South Australia is doing and showing some leadership, showing some common sense in sitting down with their Victorian counterparts to get a workable solution. That's all we're asking for. I'm not asking for them to tear down all their restrictions and say that it's all wrong. I'm saying be practical, use common sense, listen and understand - that's what the Chief Medical Officer in Queensland did. And I lay the challenge down to every chief medical officer to go out, to sit down and listen, and understand.

And the Chief Medical Officer in Queensland sat down with Lawrence Springborg, the Mayor of Goondiwindi, and worked out a solution that now has opened up the borders between Queensland and New South Wales. That's leadership, that's what you do when you lead through a pandemic, when you lead through a national crisis - that's all I'm asking. And this is the challenge that I lay to the New South Wales Government. South Australia looks to be taking the challenge and I congratulate them for that as well. There is one last bastion to break and that is New South Wales - it is now beholden on them, otherwise, it would look very, very hypocritical.

QUESTION: Who does the buck stop with? Is it Gladys Berejiklian?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well I leave that for the New South Wales Government to determine. They have to work through this in a practical way that also gives their community confidence around community health - but there's been a proven way to do that. Queensland has shown that, South Australia is trying to work through that. So there is a practical common sense way through this but you've got to have the intent to go out, and to listen, and to understand, and to learn - not to make city centric decisions without understanding the impacts that has on regional Australians. So I challenge the premiers, and it is ultimately the Premier who will have to imply and enforce the Chief Medical Officer to sit down with her Victorian counterpart, and I implore the Premier to show that leadership.

QUESTION: Minister, is Michael McCormack the right person to lead the Nationals to the election?


QUESTION: Do you believe he has the support of the everyone in the party?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yes. And that was proven in February.

QUESTION: Do you want to be leader someday?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: It would be a lie for any of the 151 members of Parliament to say that they do not have ambition - they would be lying to you. But there is a time and place for everything and sometimes in politics, it is about timing and opportunity - and sometimes, the political gods are not shining. And so long as I can walk away with great comfort and knowledge that I've been bestowed the honour of Deputy Leader of the National Party and a Cabinet Minister, I can walk away happy if it is never bestowed on me. But obviously, everybody in this place aspires to, to lead their party, but there's a time and place and you've got to understand very few have achieved it.

QUESTION: [Indistinct] dividing forces in the Nationals?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No. There are journalists that are bored about reporting on COVID matters and are now looking for something new to draw attention and to have some fun with. The fact is while they might be bored with COVID, we're not. We're going to continue to focus on COVID. We've got to focus on Australians, not ourselves. The National Party is 100 per cent behind Michael - he will lead us to the next election. He made that clear to the party room and that's why he put his hand up in February and won the ballot.

QUESTION: Well to be fair there was a leadership challenge in February. So are you confident the people who moved against him then will now support him?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yes. Thanks, guys.